Vancouver – In a year where many doubt them and few believed, the Carleton Ravens silenced all critics and reminded everybody of the greatest collegiate basketball dynasty in North America by winning a Canadian University Sport (CIS) record twelve and their sixth CIS Men’s Basketball championships.
After the massive loss of four starters, including First-Team All-Canadian, Scrubb brother tandem, Philip & Thomas and Canadian Basketball Hall-of-Famer Head coach Dave Smart (sabbatical reasons), coupled with the overall growth and parity of the CIS game, it was easy to look past the Carleton Ravens. Most were already looking next door, across the Rideau Canal to Monpetit Hall, others, perhaps to the next city and next potential champion.
But behind a Carleton Raven patent barrage of three-pointers and an overall, all-around offensive and defensive first team effort the No. 2 Carleton Ravens like they have done before, during their dozen-long, strangle-hold of the W.P McGee trophy, convincingly defeated the No. 4 Calgary Dinos 100-79, claiming the 2016 CIS Men’s Championship and thus reminding the 4,415+ crowd at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, and all of us that they’ve been down this graduation, adversity road once or twice since it all begun back in 2003.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Smart.“People called it a rebuilding year, and we kind of figured out halfway that our identity was a little different, and we were going to have to do it by committee. I think every body chipped in. I don’t know – we said it from the start – players were a good fit for our coaches. Neither of us really knew what we were doing, and we kind of stayed with it.”
All five Ravens starters reached double-figures with Carleton’s fourth-year guard Connor Wood (Guelph, ON) making it four-for-four – as in winning four championships, in four seasons by pour in a team-high 22-points on 5-of-12 three-pointers and four assists, four rebounds on his way to being named the 2016 CIS Final 8 Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Fifth year seniors Gavin Resch (18 points, 6-of-12 three-pointers) and forward Guillaume Boucard (12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) went out with a bang, ending their collegiate careers once again hosting the W.P McGee Trophy.
Point Guard Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, ON) and Forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) both transferred to the Ravens program with the sole purpose of winning a championship title and were both instrumental in adding to the long list of Gold medals, championship banners and hardware collection at the Ravens Nest. Keane who benefited from the new CIS/NCAA transfer rule finished with 15-point, 10-assist double-double while Ejim added 12 points, 6 rebounds and four blocks.
Calgary returned to the title game for the first time in 50 years (1966) and scored the first points of the highly anticipated championship on a made basket by All-Canadian, American Thomas Cooper (Chattanogga, Tenn.) who netted a game-high 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, but never regained the lead as the Ravens buried sixth triples in the first-quarter to grab a commanding 26-14 advantage, cruising to a game-high 24-point lead before settling in for yet another Championship celebration.
The Ravens shot the lights out in the opening half, burying 10-of-20 (50%) three-pointers and added six more to finish the night at 16-of-36 (44%). Carleton got 21 more shots up than Calgary on 40-for-81 (49.4%) shooting from the floor. Calgary managed only 66 attempts, making only 26, for only 39%. Ravens also held the Dinos to 7-of-28 (25%) on threes and won the rebounding war with 47-37 advantage.
The Ravens are now 12-0 in CIS championship games, their only losses have both happened in Ottawa at the National semi-finals stage (2008 vs. Acadia Axemen & 2010 vs. Saskatchewan Huskies). Additionally, the 101 points scored against the Dinos marks the most points Carleton has ever scored in CIS Final 8 game and the most (79) points they’ve allowed during their current twelve championships.
With their sixth straight national title in hand the Ravens move within one of the all-time record held by the 1979-86 Victoria Vikes for most consecutive CIS championships at seven.
With only two fifth-year graduating players expected to leave the Nest and the eminent return of the Dave Smart looming, you can bet the #Questfor7 hashtag will eventually come to life and the preparation for number seven will begin tomorrow and will likely end with Carleton celebrating in Halifax in 2017.
Dave Smart steps down as Carleton men’s head coach after 14 national titles
It’s the end of an era at Carleton.
The school has announced that Dave Smart, who built a dynasty that dominated Canadian university sport for nearly 20 years, has stepped down.
Smart has accepted a new role as the university’s director of basketball operations, Carleton said in a news release.
He will be responsible for “developing the men’s and women’s basketball programs and continuing to build a culture of sport excellence,” the release said.
“Smart will provide operational support, mentorship and technical leadership to the coaching staff of both programs, and he will work with the Department of University Advancement in fundraising and community development.
“He’ll also provide mentorship to other U Sports coaches in Carleton Athletics.”
Taffe Charles, who coached Carleton’s women’s program for 12 years and won a national title in 2017-18 will succeed Smart as men’s team head coach.
“It’s been a great run,’’ said Smart in a statement.
“Coaching is my second love, my first being my wife and children. I am very thankful to the university and I am looking forward to my new role.
“This gives me an opportunity to stay involved in basketball while having more time to spend with my family.”
Smart’s 19-year tenure at Carleton was one of remarkable dominance, with 14 national championships.
He also won a record number of coaching awards and has been active as a coach with Canada Basketball.
“Dave’s success on the court has given Carleton great national visibility and we are sincerely grateful,” said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, president of Carleton University.
“I wish Dave all the best in his new role where he will share his ‘playbook’ with all our Ravens programs.”
Charles played on Carleton’s men’s team from 1990 to 1995 and began his coaching career as an assistant in 1995; he then served as an assistant with the men’s program from 1998 to 2007.
Since returning to the women’s program in 2007, Carleton won four U Sports Final 8 berths, four OUA East titles, and two OUA championships.
Carleton’s women’s national championship in 2018 was the first in school history.
“I am truly honoured to be entrusted as the next head coach of the Carleton University men’s basketball program,’’ said Charles in a statement.
“I look forward to the challenge of continuing the high standard of excellence that has been set by Coach Smart, his coaching staff and the players.’’
Carleton said it has launched a national search for a head coach of its women’s program.
Kadre Gray wins second consecutive U Sports MVP
Laurentian guard Kadre Gray took his game to another level this season.
That’s saying something.
A year ago, Gray was the top Canadian university male athlete in any sport, the first Laurentian student to win the honour.
He led the country in assists, narrowly missed a scoring title, and — perhaps by default — also won the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as men’s basketball player of the year.
“Kadre’s work ethic continues to shine bright,” said Laurentian head coach Shawn Swords in a statement.
“He is always looking for ways to improve and refine all aspects of the game.”
If there was any doubt, Gray stifled it in his junior season.
He averaged 31 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game en route to his second consecutive Moser trophy.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment to do it once,” said Swords.
“And now, to be named MVP twice, is truly a testament to his willingness to learn and improve.
“The Kadre effect has spread throughout our community as well. It is great to see him support our local youth and realize the positive impact he has on everyone.”
Gray received the 2019 Moser trophy Thursday at a gala in Halifax, N.S., ahead of the U Sports Men’s Final 8 tournament.
University of Calgary guard Mambi Diawara, Concordia guard Ricardo Monge and St. Mary’s University guard Kemar Alleyne were also finalists for the award.
Gray was simply a cut above. He posted gaudy stats with notable efficiency, shooting 48.8 per cent from the floor.
He was also a First Team All-Canadian and played with Canada’s national team in FIBA World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil.
Gray was the only U Sports player to participate in the qualifiers.
Other award winners:
Rookie of the Year (Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy): Alix Lochard, UQAM.
Ken Shields Award for Student-Athlete Community Service: Tanner Graham, Queen’s.
Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Anderson, Carleton.
Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Trophy (Coach of the Year): Dan Vanhooren, Calgary.